Paul Marden - Orcare Limited

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

BA use Twitter for Sellout Online Sale

Following Britain's victory over the Aussies in the Ashes yesterday British Airways and Qantas joined forces to promote a sale of return tickets on the kangaroo route at bargain basement prices.

There's nothing new about that though, as they did the same back in 2005, where tickets sold out in around 30 minutes. What has been impressive this year is BA's use of Twitter to advertise the sale and keep followers posted with updates.

BA has been using Twitter to advertise sales and build a sense of community since December 2008, and now have 4,000 people following their Tweets (short messages posted on Twitter).

Today's sale showed how companies can use social networking tools such as Twitter to increase their profile and build a sense of community with their customers. Yesterday, BA followers were told about the sale along with how and when to buy tickets. Then this morning when the sale was delayed, BA sent a message out to followers advising the delay. When the sale finally got under way BA sounded the whistle by sending a follow up Tweet. Once the tickets were sold, in little under 15 minutes from the start of the sale, a Tweet popped up advising the sale was over.

Finally later in the day a new sale was posted on Twitter to follow up on those that missed the opportunity earlier in the day.

When talking to companies about their web strategy I'm often asked why should companies bother with social networking tools -- "surely it's just for kids, what difference will it make to a business?". But this case demonstrates how, through the use of tools like Twitter, companies can increase their profile, build a sense of community and ultimately increase sales.

In another example of social networking in business, I recently integrated Twitter with British Airways Flying Club and Wycombe Air Park's new website content management system. During the recent AeroExpo Event at Wycombe -- the largest General Aviation exhibition in the UK -- the Twitter feed kept club members and airfield users updated on the latest seminars, late breaking exhibitors, and changes to airfield operations, drawing more traffic to the Club's website.

British Airways Flying Club and Wycombe Air Park were built by Orcare using Umbraco, with Twitter integration using Tweet on Publish for Umbraco 1.0 by Ferguson Moryama.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Free Design Templates for Umbraco 4 Released

Today we published three new design templates for Umbraco, the Open Source Content Management System based on Microsoft technologies. We've offered them as free to download under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.

The design templates are based on designs produced by styleshout.com, and we've packaged the to work with the new Runway feature in Umbraco version 4. For those not in the know Runway is a bare bones website structure which can be used to build a best-practice Umbraco website.

There's still a good amount to do to improve the templates -- we intend to add in support for more document types, and also add in some package actions to make it easier to install the templates.

The new design templates can be previewed and downloaded for free on the freeumbracotemplates.co.uk website.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Umbraco 4 Production Release Published -- Woo Hoo

The guys over at the Umbraco Core Team have released the first production edition of Version 4, and by golly it's a belter. There are many great enhancements in this release which appeal to designers, developers and administrators. There are a couple of big changes which affect my site freeumbracotemplates.co.uk, Master Pages and Runway.

Niels and the team have undertaken open heart surgery on the templating engine in version 4. Umbraco now uses ASP.Net Master Pages, rather than the template engine that was found in Umbraco 2 and 3. This has necessitated changes to our existing templates to be compatible.

The second major v4 feature is the new Runway Package. Runway is a real barebones website package, which makes it easy to develop a best-practice Umbraco site. There are also several Runway Packages which can be installed to extend the base Runway package. We've made sure our templates work with the Runway Standard Top Navigation package, but expect to see us incorporate templates for some of the other Runway Packages.

I'm working on getting the new version of freeumbracotemplates ready, and actually the upgrade seems to be pretty pain free. I'll let you know when I'm done.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Free Umbraco Templates for all

I'm still putting the finishing touches on, but I've just published a new meta-Umbraco website (a site about Umbraco using Umbraco). This one's a site containing free design templates for loading into Umbraco, you'll find it at freeumbracotemplates.co.uk.

All of the templates will be released under an open source license of some sort, in fact the first three templates are released under Creative Commons Attribution License v2.5.

Thanks must go to Erwin over at StyleShout.com for releasing these designs in the first place. Also thanks to Warren Buckley on who's Creative Website Package my templates overlay.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Google Checkout Package for Umbraco

I've just created my very first Umbraco Package and my very first OpenSource bit of software. It's designed to be a simple Product Catalogue which integrates with Google Checkout which provides shopping cart and payment fulfillment services. Thus it provides e-Commerce functionality to Umbraco.

The package is available on Codeplex for downloading and installing into an Umbraco installation.

The package is still very much Alpha software, as I've developed it for a number of customer sites that are still in development. However, the site has been tested with the Google Checkout Sandbox in both USD and GBP using a number of different shipping options. A demo site can be found at orcarepilotshop.capbuild.com. This posts sites to the Sandbox, so if you want to test the package out you'll need to create a checkout sandbox Google Buyer Account.

Once I've gone live with a couple of sites the package will have been thoroughly tested with some real world scenarios so I'd consider it a proper release.

You'll find install instructions available on my Company's website.

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